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Reopening of the Jack Barnes Bicentennial Boardwalk

Contact Call | Volume 11 Number 3 | September 2022

The Jack Barnes Bicentennial Boardwalk has been one of the most unique walking tracks in Cairns since it was built in 1988. It offers excellent opportunities to enjoy and learn about local mangroves, which are very important ecosystems that interface between the rainforests and the Great Barrier Reef. For birders including myself, the Jack Barnes Boardwalk has been an exciting place in which to see some unique birds such as Mangrove Robins, Torresian Kingfishers and Shining Flycatchers that rely on the mangrove habitats. Sadly, this Boardwalk had been closed on and off for many years due to structural issues.

After several discussions with Denis Walls (president of Cairns and Far North Environment Centre [CAFNEC] at the time, and also a Birdlife Australia member), we formed a boardwalk recovery team and had regular meetings to brainstorm ideas for how to get funding to repair and reopen the boardwalk.

Nesting female Shining Flycatcher

As part of our activities, we collected more than 400 petition signatures. In November 2019, Bess Murphy (CAFNEC) and I made a 30-minute presentation to the Cairns Regional Council (CRC) explaining how valuable the Jack Barnes Boardwalk is for all of us. The presentation was well received and had good comments after the meeting. But it didn’t have enough impact to make a change to their Motion to eventually remove the Boardwalk.

We also took the CRC Division 5 Councillor, Amy Eden, on a guided tour along the Boardwalk. It was a great opportunity to explain the Boardwalk’s educational and tourism values. She then successfully Moved an Amendment to the Council Motion that sought to remove the Boardwalk, which delayed any such action until late 2021.

Peter Valentine photo by Cairns Post

In 2020, honestly speaking, I was almost giving up on the Boardwalk, but Denis Walls wasn’t! He found the original Boardwalk designer, John Breen, who built the Boardwalk back in 1988 using bamboo from the Red Arrow Track in Cairns. Denis then organised a meeting with the new CEO of Cairns Airport, Richard Barker, in early 2021. Richard Barker then met with Cairns Mayor Bob Manning to persuade him to give the money ($460,000) allocated for the Boardwalk’s removal to the Airport for its repair. This was agreed to by CRC towards the end of May 2021 and the money was with the Cairns Airport before the end of the financial year in June.

View as your wander along Jack the Barnes boardwalk

The Boardwalk will be reopened by the time you read this article after 12 months repair work by Yirrganydji Land and Sea Rangers supervised by John Breen. I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who supported the restoration of the Boardwalk and hope you can give us continuing support to look after this unique facility, so it lasts for a long time.

Report and images by Hidetoshi (Mikey) Kudo.


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